The Artist of Gifting Tea - Dr Gamini Abeywickrama
The captivating story of Dr Abeywickrama’s rise to mogul status is intricately intertwined with the story of the rise of Basilur Tea, both of which began in Russia (1984 – Soviet Union) when a young Gamini, left Sri Lanka to begin his studies in medicine.
A product of Nalanda College, Dr Gamini Abeywickrama is a qualified Doctor and proud father of three  children but is probably better known as a local philanthropist and the business tycoon behind the home-grown, globally renowned, Basilur Tea brand.
Whilst progressing as a student in Russia, Dr Abeywickrama noticed a considerable gap in the Tea industry and that there was a desperate need for value addition. It was then that he and his friend Andrey Mareev – the Creative Director of Basilur Tea, began importing Tea to the Russian market. From the onset, both Andrey and Gamini believed in the importance of packaging and strategic marketing to re-invigorate the age-old tradition of Tea gifting. This led him to found the globally-renowned and innovative Tea brand – Basilur.
When asked why he delved into the Tea industry, Dr Abeywickrama simply states “it wasn’t about just selling a cup of Tea. It was (and still is) about honouring the practice and tradition where Tea is considered a lifestyle”. It is this very same mantra that has percolated through every product, process and stakeholder of Basilur to make it the foremost exporter of exclusive Ceylon Tea gift boxes.
Reminiscing, Dr Abeywickrama recalls having begun on his journey to success alongside Andrey, where for the first three  years they toiled away in a 10 x 10ft rented office room. Sans any capital; having his loan applications repeatedly rejected by the banks, the duo accepted the kindness and support of other exporters, reinvesting all their profit back into the growth of the business. Dr Abeywickrama, speaking to The Entrepreneur admitted “When we started the business, I never thought that one day we would get to such a successful position. I learnt very quickly the importance of discipline and the need to be prudent with expenditure.”
Basilur Tea continues to push the envelope of Tea gifting and marketing, coupled with a true, authentic product (of which 95% of all Basilur exports are Ceylon Tea) – promoting the ultimate Tea lifestyle for true Tea connoisseurs.
Concluding, the Tea mogul expressed “I’d hope that for all entrepreneurs they learn to think about their overheads, to manage finances and of the importance of reinvesting the money they earn back into the expansion of their business. Focus on the long-term strategy, not the short-term win.”
Dr Abeywickrama has succeeded as a visionary leader that exemplifies the prowess of calculated risk, coupled with prudence, passion and above all humility. He believes that through trust in his partners that he has been able to grow Basilur hand-in-hand with them, succeeding together. Thus the truly apparent Basilur concept of “Family” – one that is so deeply ingrained in the company culture, that it can be seen in the camaraderie and kind-folly shared between all.
Re-introducing authentic Ceylon Tea to the world, Basilur Tea has paved the way to re-establish Sri Lanka as a premium Tea exporter. The award-winning brand continues to grow under Dr Abeywickrama to further Tea innovation and creativity, for an otherwise traditional market.